Rwanda is a small country almost the same size as Haiti with only 4 national parks and therefore it’s most treasured resource for conservation and tourism development. Lake Ihema is a fresh water lake and one of the most important gems not only for Akagera National Park but also for Rwanda at large.
Akagera National Park is the only savannah park located in the eastern province it’s named after Akagera river which feeds which meanders through the open acacia savannah flows into the park’s low-lying area of swamp fringed lakes. There are 10 lakes but lake Ihema is the largest covering an area of 90km2 bounded by papyrus swamps that form an important habitat for wildlife including over 500 species of birds, hippos, Nile crocodiles and birds which attract visitors to Akagera National Park.
Managed by the African parks in partnership with Rwanda development board, the park is home to big five African mammals namely elephant, buffalo, leopard, lion and eastern black rhino along with Masai giraffe, plains zebra and several antelope species like kobs, bushbucks, waterbucks, klipspringers which can be seen during game drives safaris. There are over 500 species of birds and Lake Ihema in particular is a bird watcher’s paradise and attracts a variety of water birds. It’s a must visit for birding trips in Rwanda and the lake is famous for endangered species such as shoebill stork and papyrus gonolek.
Apart from birds, the lake is also home to 12 species of fish including tilapia and cichlids which attract visitors for spot fishing activities on catch and release basis as well as reptiles and mammals that include hippos, Sitatunga swamp dwelling antelope, buffalo, waterbucks and giant otters.
Activities to do at Lake Ihema
The main activity in Akagera National Park are game drives that offer visitors a chance to spot the big five mammals, several antelopes while exploring the park’s natural beautiful landscapes. to make the most of your wildlife viewing while in the park, a boat trips on Lake Ihema are highly recommended.
Boat rides are scheduled in the afternoon the time when large mammals (elephants, buffaloes) come to the shores to drink and evening so you can experience the African sunset. This activity provides opportunities to photograph wildlife at close rangers especially hippos and birds. Some of the popular birds include the shoebill stork, papyrus gonoleck malachite and woodland kingfishers, African fish eagle, pelicans among many others.
The boat rides last for 3 hours and takes you along the shores from the start to the other end of the lake and returning back.
This activity is done on Lake Shakani, not on Lake Ihema and it can only be done using modern methods as well as traditional ones. Rwanda development board and African parks only allow catch and release policy in partnerships with the lodges that provide fishing equipment and gears like Akagera Game Lodge.
However, visitors can ask for permission to catch fish such as tilapia and then take it to the lodge to enjoy it.Book This Safari